Moments with friends in the hospital following an injury.
The first time out of the hospital...I was given a special pass to attend a party with a special friend.
Or days after I was finally released from the hospital and went to a concert with the dancing girls.
I returned to camp for the first time and saw the pure gentleness and heart of an animal who refused to leave my side.
And during the same return visit, my friend Neely attached flashlights (see pic above), with duct tape, to my wheelchair so we could see while she pushed me across the rugged terrain under the blanket of darkness only camp provides. And I remember how she sat in my other wheelchair, as we hung out with everyone, so I wouldn't feel alone.
Dashing to New York City to see a dear friend after 9/11.
The look of freedom after purchasing a car with hand controls. That smile isn't about the car, it's about the freedom. To go where and when I wanted after relying on the kindness of others for so long...priceless.
And my dad doing what ever he could to give me the freedom.
Taking off to see a dear friend play soccer for the first time, all by myself.
Attending a Christmas tradition I thought would only be a memory.
And cuddling with the cutest Sprite there ever was at said Christmas tradition.
Making gingerbread houses and gingerbread men with my roommate and friend.
Christmas moments with cousins and family.
And although I can see the illness taking its toll in this picture, I also see a smile and remember all of the laughter of this beautiful day. This was just a few short days after a blood transfusion.
A day at the park even though I wanted to stay in bed.
Tennis with Ashlea. Love.
Volunteering and helping with my church youth group. Fevers dominated these days, but moments with these kids took away the pain...if only for a fleeting second.
And this day. I decided to take a friend's daughter to the Bengals' training camp and the coach and quarterback noticed us struggling to find an accessible seat. The coach waved for us to come down and sit on the field and every player signed our footballs, jerseys, and hats.
And one of the greatest football seasons for the Bengals and we had season tickets. I soon discovered the perks of having a wheelchair...great seats at football games.
Some of these are hard to look at and notice my illness taking over, but then I remember it didn't win. It didn't even win when it was at its worst. I kept going and doing and living and believing. Life goes on.
And the hardest memory of all...with my dancing girls, still standing, and loving every minute of it. See if you can find me.
Just a story in images today. I will be stopping back by later in the week with many more words, but these pictures say enough. Remember to smile today...whatever the pain or however strong. It helps, I promise.